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Germany

Germany Considers Introducing Volunteer Service

Earlier this week Berlin’s red-green coalition government announced it would seriously consider abolishing the draft. But getting rid of mandatory military service would also mean that the alternative, community service, would suffer as a result. Hospitals, senior citizen homes and youth centers would be understaffed, and many projects which rely on the 90,000 civil draftees for inexpensive labor would shut down. Already a reduction of the length of community service from 10 to nine months, as suggested by the government, would place a strain on the social system. In a report released on Thursday, Family Affairs Minister Renate Schmidt referred to the potential crisis facing the country and called for allowing draftees to extend their civil service on a voluntary basis. She also floated the idea of introducing a voluntary service for both men and women, which would last between three months and two years. Such a service -- a first for Germany -- would include projects in the traditional social areas as well as in child care, environmental protection and immigration. A mandatory service year as a replacement for conscription was, however, rejected, as the German constitution strictly prohibits this.

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